As new approaches for peripheral nerve regeneration are sought, there is an increasing demand for native Schwann cells for in vitro testing and/or reimplantation. Extracorporeal shockwave treatment (ESWT) is an emergent technology in the field of regenerative medicine that has also recently been shown to improve peripheral nerve regeneration.
Methods. In this study, we elucidate the effects of ESWT on Schwann cell isolation and culture. Rat sciatic nerves were dissected and treated with ESWT, and Schwann cells were isolated and cultured for 15 passages. Results. Single treatment of the whole nerve ex vivo led to significantly increased extracellular adenosinetriphosphate as an immediate consequence, and subsequently a number of effects on the culture were observed, starting with a significantly increased Schwann cell yield after isolation. In the ESWT group, the quality of culture, reflected in consistently higher purity (S100b, morphology), proliferation rate (5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine, population doublings per passage) and expression of regenerative phenotype- associated markers (P75, glial fibrillary acidic protein, c-Jun), was significantly improved. In contrast, the control group exhibited progressively senescent behavior, reflected in a decrease of proliferation, loss of specific markers and increase in P16INK4A expression.